Why is the “is-ness” important in coaching?
As a coach, being fully in the moment is integral to being able to support our clients. Imagine if you enter a coaching session bringing in past issues and concerns. We would view our client’s stories from a lens of our own, not fully supporting them. Rather, our actions and decisions would be clouded by our biases and baggages.
To coach with a “should” mentality is also to bring in a lot of judgment into the coaching relationship. A client enters into a coaching relationship, trusting in a space that is safe – supportive, caring, and above all, non-judgmental. A coach with a “should” mindset brings in a whole set of guidelines and standards that the client must adhere to, stifling the creative space that allows for growth and development.
How will you know if a client is living in the Shadow of Should?
Individuals who live in the Shadow of Should live in constant fear, anxiety, stress, and unhappiness.
According to Tolle, some common thoughts/underlying beliefs these individuals have are:
- “There is something that needs to happen in my life before I can be at peace (happy, fulfilled, etc.) And I resent that it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe my resentment will finally make it happen.”
- “Something happened in the past that should not have happened, and I resent that. If that hadn’t happened, I would be at peace now.”
- “Something is happening now that should not be happening, and it is preventing me from being at peace now.”
- “You should do this so that I can be at peace. And I resent that you haven’t done it yet. Maybe my resentment will make you do it.”
- “Something you (or I) did, said, or failed to do in the past is preventing me from being at peace now.”
- “What you are doing or failing to do now is preventing me from being at peace.”
Until these individuals break these patterns of thought, they will forever fall victim to themselves, creating their own personal hells, suffering by choice.
How can a coach use it during sessions?
How then can we support individuals who want to move from Should to Is? By simply bringing more awareness to these thoughts, we allow our clients to shift from being stuck in blaming the past/future, to being fully present in their lives. This allows them to respond more fully to each moment, versus reacting simply on the basis of past experiences or future assumptions.
Some questions we can ask clients who seem stuck in the Should are:
- What are you feeling/thinking in this moment?
- Is the pain (unhappiness, discomfort, etc) you are feeling in this moment in time caused by something that is occurring right now?
- Where are these feelings/thoughts coming from?
- Can you accept these feelings/thoughts as they are?
- What power does your past/future have over you now?
- Can your past/future prevent you from being fully present in your life right now?
- What do you benefit from feeling/thinking this way?
- What can you do about your current situation?
- How would you feel if you acted upon this situation in the way you mentioned?
- What do your reactions, emotions, and thoughts tell you about yourself?
- In this moment in time, what can I give – to this person/situation?
- What would happen if you did not let yourself get affected by what was happening?
How do you view the present?
Reflection (Questions to ask)
Some questions you can ask yourself:
- Are you living in the fullness of the Is or in the Shadow of Should?
- As a coach, how do you know you are being fully present to life as it happens and to your client?
- How else can “should” deter your client from living more fully?
- How else can you support your client in moving from “should” to “is”?
- How can you protect yourself as a coach from bringing in your own biases, your own “shoulds”?
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Eckhart Tolle (Plume, 2006)
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckart Tolle (Namaste Publishing Inc, 1997)
Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science, Michael White and John Gribbin (National Academies Press, 2002)
Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl (Beacon Press, 2006)
You discover that there is only ever this moment. Life is always now. Your entire life unfolds in this constant Now.